Scotland urged to ‘be braver’ on obesity after ‘disappointing’ UK strategy

Written by Tom Freeman on 18 August 2016 in News

Health campaigners call for the Scottish Government to take a tougher line with retail after branding new UK obesity strategy "disappointing"

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The Scottish Government is being urged to be braver tackling obesity by health campaigners after today’s UK Government strategy was branded “disappointing”.

The new strategy was criticised after it opted for industry self-regulation as opposed to stricter restrictions on advertising and promotions.

TV advertising is a reserved matter but the Scottish Government has said it will produce an obesity strategy of its own.


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Lorraine Tulloch, Programme Lead of Obesity Action Scotland said “Now is the time for Scotland to step up and show that level of leadership again by changing the food environment to ensure the healthy choice is the easy choice.

“Scottish Government should move ahead to regulate on price promotions and portion size and implement all the necessary actions to turn this problem around.”

Proceeds from the sugar tax, which enters a new phase of consultation according to the UK strategy, will go to support physical activity in schools in England. The Scottish Conservatives urged the Scottish Government to do the same.

Shadow health secretary Donald Cameron said: “We will be urging them to spend that money in the early years of primary school to encourage children to develop an active lifestyle.

“Whether that’s through more primary school sport or via breakfast clubs, there’s more that can be done to ensure that we crack down early on the obesity epidemic and stop the cycle of poor health in Scotland.”

However Cancer Research UK’s expert in cancer prevention, Professor Linda Bauld, said physical activity should not be seen as a “silver bullet” in fighting obesity.

“Recent decreases in physical activity don't account for rising obesity levels alone,” she said.

“Diet is an essential factor and tackling consumption of junk food should be a priority.  A plan which doesn't address junk food marketing will not go far enough to protect our children from a lifetime of poor health outcomes.

“Today's plan was published by the UK Government but there is much more that could be done in Scotland. As part of its expected obesity strategy, we would urge the Scottish Government to do better and take action on some forms of junk food marketing, including on very cheap unhealthy foods.

“Rates of childhood obesity in Scotland are rising and this is a public health crisis we can't ignore."

Obesity rates in Scotland are amongst the highest in the world, even higher than in England. Two in every three adults in Scotland are overweight, meaning people of normal weight in Scotland are now in the minority.

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